King's birthday to be marked by 2 events

His daughter will speak at breakfast in Arnold

January 15, 2003|By Luke Tracy | Luke Tracy,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County residents will mark the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday with two events in the next week, including a dinner Monday at which a daughter of the slain civil rights leader will speak.

Ayinde Jean-Baptiste, who gained notice at age 12 for a speech he gave at the Million Man March in 1995, will be the keynote speaker at today's 15th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Dinner in Linthicum. Today is King's birthday.

On Monday, the federal holiday marking King's birthday, Yolanda King will address the 22nd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Breakfast at Anne Arundel County Community College in Arnold.

The theme of Wednesday's dinner, the largest in Anne Arundel County to honor King, is "Our Youth Is Our Future - The Struggle Continues."

Organizers and local businesses are offering free tickets to young people. About 1,000 people are expected to attend.

Jean-Baptiste's address, "How the King Legacy Applies Today," will focus on the importance of young people continuing King's work.

Event organizer Carl O. Snowden, an aide to County Executive Janet S. Owens, recalled the young man's speech at the Million Man March.

"He was able to do what Dr. King did in 1963," Snowden said, referring to the "I Have a Dream" speech. "He really electrified the audience."

Jean-Baptiste, a 20-year-old student at Northwestern University in Chicago, began his public speaking career at the age of 4 when he recited the "I Have a Dream" speech at his church. Since the Million Man March, he has shared the stage with President Bill Clinton, appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and spoken at numerous schools around the country about staying in school, avoiding gangs and drugs, and working to make the world a better place.

"We're looking for Mr. Jean-Baptiste to help young people find their moral compass that has been absent from today's society," Snowden said.

Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch, retiring state Sen. Arthur Dorman and the Rev. Mildred Holiday will be honored at tonight's dinner, which begins at 6 p.m. at the BWI Marriott.

At Monday's breakfast, Yolanda King will speak on "Where Do We Go from Here?"

Yolanda King is an actress who has appeared in films such as Ghosts of Mississippi and played Rosa Parks in a TV movie. She is King's oldest daughter and devotes most of her time to working for racial tolerance and human rights. She is working on a CBS miniseries about her mother, Coretta Scott King. No tickets remain for the breakfast.

Information on both events: 443-336-2373.

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